For meat eaters, fat may not be the only concern. A large observational study of Seventh-Day Adventists showed that a high intake of protein from meat (including processed meat and poultry) is associated with an increased risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease-regardless of the fat content and other nutrients in the meat. The findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2018.
In contrast, a high intake of protein from nuts and seeds was linked to a markedly reduced cardiovascular death rate over the nine-year period. The researchers also found that protein from grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables was not associated with changes in mortality rate.
The amino acid composition of various protein sources may have different physiological effects, the researchers suggested (amino acids are the building blocks of protein). Other components of these foods, or the effects of the whole food “package,” may also play a role.
Seventh-Day Adventists have been studied for decades to evaluate which aspects of their healthy lifestyle are most responsible for their relatively long average life expectancy. They tend to have healthy plant-based diets and eat lots of nuts, nut butters, seeds, and beans, in particular.